Ben Lovejoy for 9to5Mac:
Apple is right to target pro users of the mini. But it would be wrong to ignore the more budget end of the market.
Many people run a Mac mini as a home media server, for example. It’s small, near-silent and … inexpensive. Especially if you’re running it as a headless unit, as many do, using Screen Sharing or ssh to access it.
That ‘inexpensive’ part is an essential piece of the home server equation. A home server doesn’t require much processing power, so there’s no point splashing out cash on a higher spec than you need. If Apple were to offer only a high-powered model with a price-tag to match, many would simply buy a competitor box.
I agree with Ben on this one, but only to an extent. While A high powered small desktop-like device such as a Pro-level Mac Mini would be amazing, I absolutely enjoy mine. It’s dated as all hell, sure, and is but the base model from 2014. I bought it used on eBay for something like $250. It serves a single purpose for me, right now: acting as a Time Machine dumping ground.
Should Apple ditch the cheap Mini, I’ll be sad for a beat, then move on. For those looking for a Mini for home-server-type applications, the 2nd-hand market is on fire with them. If Apple doesn’t update the low-end with new parts, there’ll be little different than today. Will it suck that the only replacement likely crosses the four-digit threshold? Sure. But it’s not the end of the world.
If you can manage to–dare I say it–suffer through buying a used model–you’ll survive just fine.
There’s also Synology.